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Prison-bound ex-prosecutor lobbies judge for better custody assignment, court papers say  

Christopher McPartland outside federal court in Central Islip

Christopher McPartland outside federal court in Central Islip in August. Credit: James Carbone

A disbarred Suffolk prosecutor is asking a federal judge to intervene so he can spend his five-year corruption sentence in a minimum-security prison.

The Bureau of Prisons has decided Christopher McPartland, a former top aide to ex-Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, should be in a low-security Texas prison instead of a minimum security "camp," according to a court filing.

McPartland's attorney also wrote in the letter Wednesday to U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack that prison officials picked a more secure setting because they believe the ex-prosecutor's conviction "has the severity scale of an assault case."

A Central Islip jury in 2019 convicted McPartland and Spota of charges that included conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The panel found they orchestrated a cover-up of the 2012 police precinct beating of prisoner Christopher Loeb that James Burke, then Suffolk's police chief, carried out with three detectives.

Last week Azrack denied a motion from Spota, 80, of Mount Sinai, and McPartland, 55, of Northport, to stay free on bail as they appeal their convictions to a higher court. She ordered both defendants to surrender to prison officials on Dec. 10.

The judge's ruling also granted McPartland a 30-day delay to his original surrender date. McPartland's attorney, Larry Krantz, had requested the delay while in part citing an effort to get McPartland's prison assignment changed.

Federal prosecutors said recently in court papers that the defense had McPartland's custody assignment "backwards." They said prison officials first assigned McPartland to a West Virginia facility that was not a "camp facility," but then reassigned him to a Texas prison that has an adjacent minimum-security camp.

But Krantz said in his Wednesday letter that a correctional specialist working for the defense confirmed with the Bureau of Prisons that McPartland is slated for a non-camp portion of Beaumont Federal Correctional Complex that has a low security level.

Low-security facilities have double-fenced perimeters and while federal prison "camps" have limited or no perimeter fencing, according to the Bureau of Prisons' website.

McPartland's assignment "seems unduly harsh," with "far more arduous conditions of confinement" and a location that will "greatly impair" his family's ability to visit him, Krantz wrote to the judge.

He said prison officials decided McPartland shouldn't be assigned to minimum security because he "was found guilty of being an 'accessory after the fact' to the assault of Christopher Loeb," making his case as severe as an assault case. But Krantz argued that his client wasn't violent.

He also told the judge that prison officials said McPartland had been assigned to a facility far from where he had been a law enforcement officer for his own safety.

But Krantz asked Azrack to recommend that McPartland be incarcerated closer to New York and in a minimum-security setting such as a camp in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania — which he called "the Court's original recommendation" — or a West Virginia camp.

Krantz also asked Azrack to lobby for McPartland's placement elsewhere in Pennsylvania, or in Ohio or Virginia if "a minimum security designation is not possible."

Both the Manhattan defense attorney and a spokesman for Eastern District prosecutors declined to comment Thursday.

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